Multiple employees of the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation have been suspended after more than 30 participants in a basic training program did the Nazi salute in their graduation picture, local TV station WCHS reported Thursday.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice condemned the photo and called for the firing of everyone involved. “This will not be tolerated on my watch – within the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation – or within any agency of state government,” he said in a statement.
The photo claims that the class was conducted from October 21 to November 27. The caption above the photo stated “Hail Byrd!” A spokesman for Gov. Justice said it was a reference to the training class’s director, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.
West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety cabinet secretary Jeff Sandy said in a letter to employees that the state corrections commissioner had ordered all copies of the photo destroyed. He added that local faith leaders had been informed of the incident, and their views would be solicited in order to improve the training program in the future. The letter does not explain who is in the photo or how it came about.
Rabbi Victor Urecki of B’nai Jacob Synagogue in Charleston said he had been informed of the photo. “It was disturbing, shocking and troubling, and I am waiting to hear more about how it all unfolded and am prepared to help in what will be difficult days forward for our state,” he said in a statement.